France, Netherlands want EU regulator to tackle large digital platforms

Thursday 15 October 2020 | 14:11 CET | News
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France and the Netherlands want EU regulators to tackle large digital platforms and their dominant position on the market on a case-by-case basis, according to a proposal published by State Secretaries Cedric O of France and Mona Keizer of the Netherlands. The proposal comes as EU telecom ministers hold a virtual meeting to discuss proposals on the internal market for digital services. 

The proposed measures would apply to platforms that consumers or entrepreneurs cannot ignore and which therefore have a so-called gatekeeper position. Examples include Google, Apple and Amazon. The European Commission is already consulting on draft proposals about limits to these gatekeepers.

The proposed measures include:

  • An obligation for such platforms to enable data portability, so that entrepreneurs can access their own data and use it elsewhere.
  • A ban on these platforms to favour their own services, to the disadvantage of other users.
  • The possible imposition of more far-reaching access measures, such as an obligation for platforms to share data, enable interoperability or proactively offer users alternative choices in addition to their own services.

"The platform economy offers consumers many advantages and entrepreneurs opportunities for online growth," Keijzer said. "But sometimes certain digital platforms become too powerful. Consider the dependence on app stores. That is why action should be taken sooner if a platform with a gatekeeper function actually disrupts the market. They then hinder the entry of new companies and limit the freedom of choice of consumers and entrepreneurs. A European regulator must take effective action against this. This would create fairer digital markets and enable consumers and entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the platform economy,” she added.

France’s O said it should be a common ambition to come up with effective measures to tackle and break open the market power of such platforms. "Access to data, to services, interoperability: these are efficient tailor-made instruments that promote fair market forces and guarantee the consumer's freedom of choice. We are pleased to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Netherlands and other European countries and I also support the ambitions of EU Commissioner Thierry Breton in this area, including the possibility of eventually opting for structural measures where necessary. France will continue to monitor this topic closely in order to eventually translate the ambitions," he said.

Closer supervision and early intervention at platforms with a gatekeeper position was one of the proposals made by Keijzer last year. The EC last summer incorporated Dutch efforts to tackle this competition problem into its policy plans. With the latest publication, France and the Netherlands are further elaborating these ideas in order to contribute to the concrete proposal the EC should come out with by year end.

According to the draft proposal of the EC announced in early October, gatekeepers - such as owners of search engines and online marketplaces - are not allowed to use the data collected on their platforms to provide users with offers and to send targeted advertisements unless competing companies (especially smaller European companies) can access the same data.

Gatekeepers must also no longer prohibit competitors from offering their products outside of the platform or services of these gatekeepers.

ACM in favor of tackling tech giants

In September, the Dutch competition and consumer regulator ACM said it was in favour of tightening responsibilities for large digital platforms and for strengthening consumer rights. The Dutch regulator also supports the proposal for additional options to intervene at an early stage with large online platforms, in order to prevent competition problems. ACM is also positive about more options for protecting consumers in the online economy.

The EC started consultations in the run-up to introducing new legislation before year-end to improve competition in the digital economy, with better protection for consumers. This is expected to include a new Digital Services Act, updating the EU's eCommerce directive, and a possible new instrument, the so-called New Competition Tool.

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Categories: General
Companies: ACM / Amazon / Apple / European Commission / Google
Countries: Europe / France / Netherlands
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